GIs Pacificwide laugh it up as the Globetrotters come calling
FUTENMA MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Okinawa — Unexpected surprises, comedy capers and high-flying high jinks have been the “order of the day” for the past week at Pacific bases thanks to a visit by the clown princes of basketball, the Harlem Globetrotters.
They came calling on Futenma’s Semper Fit athletic complex, as part of a week-ong swing through Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea, sporting their usual array of gags that had a crowd of more than 1,000 in stitches with laughter.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that they’re here,” said Futenma’s station commander Col. Leo Falcam. “This is an opportunity to have our troops get a taste of home. This is a real treat for all of us.”
Likewise for the Globetrotters. Their show player, Kevin “Special K” Daley, has a brother in the Navy and an aunt in the Air Force, and he said he felt it only right that the Globetrotters give a little back to a military that keeps him free.
“What we do is nothing compared to what they do,” said Daley.
“We come here to give them (GIs) a touch of home,” Daley said. “If they have anything on their minds … this can give them a laugh. They love it. It makes us love it. These days, everybody has some sort of connection with the military. They do so much for us. This is the smallest thing we can do to give back.”
The proceedings began offstage, where Falcam and Naval Forces Okinawa commanding officer Capt. Robert D. Wilson were presented with signed basketballs by Globetrotters coach Clyde Sinclair.
Then the fun began.
The Globetrotters and their opponents, the New York Nationals, hit the floor, with the Globetrotters doing their traditional “Magic Circle” warmup to the strains of “Sweet Georgia Brown” played on the sound system.
Some serious basketball was played — the Globetrotters won 69-47 — but time and again, play was halted when Daley and his comic sidekick, Michael “Wild Thing” Wilson, played a trick, be it on referee Barry Kent Terry or after pulling spectators out of the stands, mostly youngsters.
Two of them, 9-year-old Joey Torres and 10-year-old Lauren Reyes of Camp Kinser, gamed up to see which one could don a Globetrotters uniform and hit a jump shot the quickest.
“I’m so excited, I’m about to burst,” Torres said.
Daley, Wilson and the gang also trotted out the missing-purse and water-bucket gags, soaking Terry with the latter and leaving dependent wife Sara Mitchell blushing a bit at center court, bussing Daley on the cheek after he returned her purse.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” she said.
Nobody was immune, regardless of rank and stature. Daley later trotted to the distinguished visitors seats and planted himself on the lap of a woman — Camp Foster commanding officer Col. Adrienne Fraser-Darling.
“I’m sure he had no idea who I was,” she said, smiling.